GAME NOTES: A pair of one-win teams try to get on track, as the Mavericks of Texas-Arlington come calling on the Samford Bulldogs in non-conference action on Saturday night.
Texas-Arlington is an even 1-1 on the young season, having squeaked past CSU Bakersfield in the opener (62-60) but then narrowly losing to Oklahoma (63-59). Following this contest, the Mavericks return to the Lone Star State to take on four straight intrastate foes, starting with a Nov. 28 visit to North Texas. UTA is a member of the Western Athletic Conference, and will play its first league game at home against New Mexico State on Dec. 29.
Samford has already played six games here in the first couple of weeks of the season, but it has just one win to show for its efforts, that being a 59-40 decision at home against Martin Methodist. Since that time, the Bulldogs have lost four straight, the most recent of which being a 69-65 decision to Alcorn State in Fort Myers, Florida in the consolation bracket of the 2012 Atlantis on the Mainland Tournament. The Bulldogs will open Southern Conference play on Jan. 5, 2013 at home against Chattanooga.
Samford owns a 5-4 lead in the all-time series with Texas-Arlington, and the Bulldogs have won each of the last four meetings. The last clash took place in 2001, with Samford winning in Arlington, 71-69.
Although they've only played two games, it's obvious that Texas-Arlington is going to have trouble scoring this season as the team is averaging a meager 60.5 ppg in shooting just 37.6 percent from the field, which includes a dismal 21.2 percent effort from three-point range. Adding further insult is the fact that the Mavericks are converting only 57.8 percent of their free throws, and they are guilty of 20 turnovers per outing as well. Fortunately, they have played well defensively, yielding 61.5 ppg behind 29.5 percent field goal efficiency, which includes a 21.7 percent showing from beyond the arc. Kevin Butler is the only player averaging double digits in the scoring column, but even his 11.5 ppg aren't going to keep opposing coaches awake at night. Five others average between 7.5 and 9.5 ppg, so balance is more the order of the day for UTA, which shot 37.9 percent from the field in the recent loss to Oklahoma, missing 15 of its 18 long-range bombs along the way. The Mavericks turned the ball over 18 times, but held the Sooners to 32.8 percent field goal accuracy, and only 27.8 percent from downtown. Karol Gruszecki scored 15 points and Butler tallied 14 in defeat.
Tyler Hood scored 16 points, Raijon Kelly added 14 and Tim Williams had 10, but Samford still came up short in its bid to knock off Alcorn State and stop its current losing streak. The Bulldogs, who have lost four straight, shot just 37.3 percent from field, missing 19 of their 27 three-point attempts in the process. Conversely, the Braves shot 42.9 percent from the floor and committed just eight turnovers. Hood nailed four treys in the game, but he is still shooting just 27.6 percent from beyond the arc for the year. Samford averages just 60.8 ppg and is shooting 40.4 percent from the field, which includes a 30.6 percent effort from long distance. The team is being beaten on the boards (-5.8 rebounding margin) and commits three turnovers per outing more than the opposition. Those same foes are putting up 68.5 ppg behind typical shooting outputs of .419 overall and .307 from three-point range. The Bulldogs boast just two double-digit scorers as Williams averages 16.0 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, and Kelly nets 12.8 ppg while handing out 4.3 apg.
Neither team has had much success early on, but the home court advantage can't be minimized, and neither can UTA's difficulty scoring points.
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